As usual with H2020, FET-open is highly demanding. So here’s what you need to apply for a grant:
- Radical vision: “the project must address a clear and radical vision, enabled by a new technology concept that challenges current paradigms. In particular, research to advance on the roadmap of a well-established technological paradigm, even if high-risk, will not be funded.”
- Breakthrough technological target: “the project must target a novel and ambitious science-to-technology breakthrough as a first proof of concept for its vision. In particular, blue-sky exploratory research without a clear technological objective will not be funded. “
- Ambitious interdisciplinary research “for achieving the technological breakthrough and that opens up new areas of investigation. In particular, projects with only low-risk incremental research, even if interdisciplinary, will not be funded.”
There are the three “FET gatekeepers”.
H2020 organises “calls”, each with their specific challenges and conditions. See here for a concrete example of one of these calls. The application must be submitted by a consortium of at least three entities from three different European countries.
I have a PoC but no prototype yet – TRL 4 to 6
So your idea’s working, but far from marketable? You need to demonstrate its traction? A number of funds can help get you to the point where you have an actual, full-scale working prototype.
Innovate UK “drive(s) growth by working with companies to de-risk, enable and support innovation”. It is part of UK Research and Innovation and offers innovation loans (£50 million available over a two-year program).
These loans, reserved to UK-based SMEs, are meant to bring a project to the market. Consequently, you can use the funds to:
- produce plans or designs for the project (product, service or process)
- develop prototypes and pilots
- experimental production and tests
You apply for these loans by entering a competition. You can borrow from £100.000 to £1 million, to cover up to 100% of the eligible costs. The loans run for up to 10 years, divided into three parts:
- an availability period of 3 years → you can draw down money for R&D without having to make repayments.
- an extension period of 2 years (if required) → it gives you extra time to draw a route to market.
- a repayment period of 5 years
NB: At this early stage, Horizon 2020’s FET grants are still available.
I have a working prototype and I want to bring my project to market – TRL 7 to 9
The European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot offers support to those “at cutting edge of innovation”.
Beyond the FET, already mentioned, the EIC falls into two programs: the SME instrument and Fast Track to Innovation (FTI).
The SME instrument
The instrument, with a budget of €1.6 billion (£1.4 billion), aims at funding a radical innovation that can disrupt established value networks and markets”.
There are two types of grants: the feasibility assessment (phase 1) and the innovation project (phase 2). A single company or a consortium can apply.
Feasibility assessment (phase 1)
The phase 1 grant helps businesses assess the technical feasibility and/or the commercial potential of a development, the outcome of which must be a business plan. The assessment, which typically lasts around 6 months, is funded through a lump sum of €50.000 (£44.000).
Innovation project (phase 2)
The second phase supports the innovation projects “underpinned by a sound and strategic business plan”. It funds the activities aimed at bringing innovation to a maturity enabling the product or service to get to market. As a consequence, this development lasts typically 1 to 2 years and the funding scale is from €500.000 (£440.00) to €2.5 million (a little over £2 million).
NB: it is not necessary to have had a phase 1 grant to apply for a phase 2 grant.
Fast Track to Innovation
The FTI scheme requires that the applications are made by three to five European entities. It offers grants of up to €3 million (£2.5 million) for close-to-market innovation.
Consortiums answer a call, the conditions of which are described in the Horizon 2020 Work-Programme 2018-2020
Here ends the second part of this presentation. In the third and last part of this series, we will deal with grants aimed at developing your business.